At least seven shootings - including three murders - are being attributed to a war between two Atlanta gangs fired by jealousy over a woman and repeated holdups of rival drug dealers. Investigators say the bad blood between the Miami Boys drug gang and the Herndon Homes Boys runs deep. Three men said to be Miami Boys were convicted Jan. 23 in the July 31, 1990, basketball-court slaying of Tony Minter. Police said Minter was a Herndon Homes Boy who was marked for a hit because he allegedly robbed Miami Boys' street dealers.
At least seven shootings - including three murders - are being attributed to a war between two Atlanta gangs fired by jealousy over a woman and repeated holdups of rival drug dealers, police say.
Investigators say the bad blood between the Miami Boys drug gang and the Herndon Homes Boys runs deep.
"From what I gather, the woman got it started and it escalated into a territorial-type feud," said Assistant Fulton County District Attorney Grover Hudgins. "I understand that a crew from Herndon Homes was doing some robbing of drug dealers and that was one of the main underlying factors."
Three men said to be Miami Boys were convicted Jan. 23 in the July 31, 1990, basketball-court slaying of Tony Minter. Police said Minter was a Herndon Homes Boy who was marked for a hit because he allegedly robbed Miami Boys' street dealers.
The same three men will be tried along with one and possibly two other suspects this spring in what authorities say is a second retaliation murder.
"You wouldn't believe how the homicides and aggravated assaults went down after we got these guys," said Atlanta homicide Detective Carl Lee Price.
The FBI is kicking off a multijurisdictional task force designed to identify gangs before they become entrenched, said Patrick Gray, FBI special agent in charge who is coordinating the task force.
"Atlanta is starting to catch up" in gangs, Mr. Gray said. "I don't think we have any true gangs, but there are a lot of loose-knit confederacies. A real gang runs the gamut of importation, packaging and distribution. It takes a charismatic and ruthless leader."
Police say the Miami Boys had such a leader in Atlanta in Theophilus LuJuan "Big Wheel" Roker, 28, a Miami native who is suspected of recruiting personnel, drugs and weapons from "The Bottom" - street slang for Miami.
Roker, Charlie "Shorty Red" Hudson, 19, and Terrance "Fat Boy" Elway, 22, were sentenced to life for killing Minter. The three also received an additional 40 years for wounding two other players in the hail of automatic gunfire during a pickup basketball game at John F. Kennedy Elementary School.
Police said Roker ordered the killing, drove Elway and Hudson to the court, watched the murder and then drove them away.
An unsuccessful hit
Roker also is believed to have ordered an unsuccessful June 6, 1990, hit of Todderick Hollis, a Herndon Homes Boy who once dated Roker's girlfriend and is now in prison on a drug conviction, Detective Price said. No one has been charged in the case.
"He sends Fat Boy over to shoot him," Detective Price said. "Todd is sitting in a car, and Fat Boy walks up and shoots him seven times with a .38. Todd lives."
Hollis told police he got a call from Roker after he got home from the hospital.
"Big Wheel told me that he begged and pleaded with Fat not to shoot me with a .38, but to shoot me with a 9 millimeter," Hollis told officers. "But he said that Fat's hard-headed . . . and that's why [I] ain't dead."
On Aug. 23, the Herndon Homes Boys are believed to have killed Roker's cousin, Terrance "Prep" Brown, who was riddled with 9mm automatic gunfire in apparent retaliation for Minter's death.
No one has been charged, but informants told police the Miami Boys showed up at the scene of the slaying. "Roker gives the order, `I want some blood,' " Detective Price said.
The Miami Boys began plotting their revenge on the spot, taking the keys to Mr. Brown's girlfriend's Herndon Homes apartment from the dead man's pocket. They allegedly held her captive for two days beginning Aug. 25 while they eavesdropped on the community through the open windows of her apartment to find out who killed Mr. Brown.
On Aug. 27, they found their mark.
"It's summer, and they've got the windows up, and Leonard Antoine Williams stands outside and is bragging about his participation in the shooting of Terrance Brown," Detective Price said.
"Then, they [the Miami Boys] get in an argument about who's going to shoot him. They all race for the door to shoot, and [one of them] sticks the gun out the window and shoots him. The rest then light him up. Then they run through the project shooting people at random - a 15-year-old girl in the foot and another man."
Suspect nabbed at funeral
Ballistics matched the bullets from the Williams homicide with those collected in the Minter slaying, Detective Price said.
Roker, Hudson, Elway, Warren "New York" Willis, 39, and Ervin Cummings, 21, were all charged with Williams's murder. All are scheduled to stand trial this spring, except Willis, who is at large.
Police went to great lengths - 663 miles - to arrest Roker.
Officers, who already had an arrest warrant for Roker, received a tip he would be attending his cousin's Sept. 1 funeral in Miami.
Roker was pulled from the funeral procession and arrested by Miami police.
Informants told police Roker was driving a rented van in the procession in hopes of recruiting "more members for his gang."
He had hoped to "bring them back to Atlanta to wipe out the Herndon Homes Boys gang," Detective Price said.